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moocs

Varsities revise MOOCs to counter fading interest

Published On: 13 Dec 2013 | Last Updated On: 13 Dec 2013

Questions surrounding the practicality of the immensely popular Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have sprung up in recent times, with providers revising them to counter fading interest in such courses. MOOCs have become a rage globally in the field of higher education during the last two years with premier colleges and universities offering them. However, the interest in such courses is waning, as per a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. This has led institutes providing them to revise and restructure MOOCs to bring the students back. The study covered one million users of such courses.

As per the study, on an average, around 50% of candidates who registered for MOOCs actually viewed a lecture and a mere 4% actually completed the course. Around 80% candidates currently pursuing a MOOC offered by University of Pennsylvania already had another degree, as per another survey by the varsity.

With its interactive mode of learning, MOOCs enable candidates from across the globe to access top-class education from premier global universities online and free of cost. Premier colleges as well as universities had joined the MOOC bandwagon. Its popularity had made education experts consider the possibility of residential campuses losing their value and result in cuts in funding.

MOOCs brought the promise of making quality education available to students from economically backward classes, which is regarded as the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of that mode of education. Students can access lectures through internet and video facilities. The phrase “MOOC” has also found a place in the Oxford Dictionaries Online due to its popularity.

Many top universities and platforms offering MOOCs are faced with dismal completion rates. Some of them have hired online mentors to assist existing students to stick with their classes and also draw new students. In spite of such a provision, students pursuing MOOCs have fared worse compared to students at regular classes. A case in point is that of a MOOC offered by San Jose State University in collaboration with Udacity. Around 100 candidates failed in the pilot batch. The program stands suspended currently.

However, the aforementioned obstacles have not deterred providers from trying to revive MOOCs. San Jose State has recorded good Results after using videos from edX, which is a nonprofit MOOC, to supplement classroom sessions. Moreover, edX is designing videos for use in Advanced Placement classes of high schools. The largest MOOC venture Coursera has been experimenting by using a facilitator at smaller discussion classes in United States consulates.

Few providers are experimenting with “connectivist MOOCs”, which focuses on connections as well as communication between the students more than the content delivered by the teachers.

In spite of the challenges, MOOCs continue to be the preferred choice for millions of students all over the world with new alliances and collaborations being formed very day. It remains to be seen how they fare in the coming years compared to the traditional brick-and mortar framework of providing education.

Source: The Times of India

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